My hometown, Pembroke, Ontario is designated a city. Although, there may not be skyscrapers and 24 hour stores, there are plenty of adventures. I’ve been very fortunate to have already wandered many communities in Canada and the world, but there’s nothing quite Pembroke. Let me take you on one of my journeys through the city and show you why I think this is a place worth exploring.
I started my adventure at West 24 Lofts*. As soon as you walk in the doors your eyes are greeted with exquisite chandeliers. When you climb the stairs the sumptuous entrance has a New York City feel. AWE Yoga welcomes you at the top. I walked in and was immediately greeted by the co-owners, Erin and Michelle. I joined an Aerial Yoga class. The vintage brick walls, natural light, encouraging quotes and the natural smells misting from the diffuser, put you in an immediate trance. You need no experience in yoga to savour every moment. They also offer one of a kind Indoor SUP Yoga, Traditional Yoga and more. I left there feeling relaxed and with a clear mind. In the upstairs of “West 24 Lofts,” there are two other great businesses: The Chamber of Secrets (Escape room) and 42 Fringe (photography studio). Both are available by appointment and if you are planning a trip to Pembroke, I’d recommend calling ahead to book some fun in advance.
Fully relaxed, I then wandered along the Muskrat River through Pansy Patch Park and on my way back, ended up in Coronation Park. While strolling through the park I found a Geo-cache. Excited to find more I continued my walk to the Pembroke Waterfront, where I found two more. After gazing at the Ottawa River, I ambled down the Kiwanis Way Waterfront Trail. The sound of the river hitting the shore, and the smell of trees had me energized to explore more.
I found myself once again at the heart of downtown Pembroke. At this point I needed a snack and luckily, I knew the perfect place: Madameek. Their tagline, Where Lebanese Cuisine Gets Its Originality, says it all. Madameek is family owned and although I have tried everything, the shawarma pita is my go-to “comfort food”.
Feeling full and like a little retail therapy, I headed to a personal favourite shop, Brimstone and Belladonna. I perused through the vast herb collection, and semi-precious stones, while chatting with one of the owners about why she created this store. Her answer was simple, “because Pembroke needed it.” What a magical place it is.
Across the street at Pick It Fence, I purchased a new custom-made long sleeve from a local clothing line they carry called Ottawa Valley Apparel. My next stop was Chahna Fai and Church Street Flowers, where it was a delight to speak to the owner, Pam, about the shop. She spoke so passionately about bringing community together. Not only does the shop have mostly products from the Ottawa Valley, and a floral shop, but they also offer workshops. I took a look and saw a full event calendar and was thrilled with the diverse options like: painting classes, essential oil workshop and a flower bar. Pam told me for the flower bar, you bring your own vase and make a uniquely personal bouquet.
As a self-declared foodie, I of course stopped at Wilkies Fresh Baked Bread, where I was ecstatic to find out the recipes originate from the owner’s grandfather. The aroma of fresh baked goods and smiling service had me drifting off to a happy place.
Just down the road is Pembroke Boxing Club, with an extraordinary atmosphere, having illuminating natural lights, and such happy people, one being the owner, Jason. If you are visiting and want to do something active, I recommend booking a private session.
As I stepped outside, the sunset fell along the main street leaving Downtown glowing with possibilities. Across the street one of my favourite restaurants in town was sending beautiful sounds whispering towards my ear. The smell of fresh baked tortillas greeted me as I floated into Janna & Kerry’s Over Easy Bar and Grill. On any given visit you will most likely have a conversation with either Janna or Kerry, but both are so humble and down to earth that chances are you will not even know it is one of the owners you are speaking with. The coffee is delightful, their selection of local craft beers is plentiful and the entire inside is an art piece. From the local paintings on the walls to the detail of the ceiling, you never have to be worried about awkward silence, because there is so much art to immerse yourself in – and this art goes beyond the food and paintings, with live music played three nights a week from the embellishing stage.
As a small City, Pembroke has an abundance of musical talent. Almost any night of the week you can enjoy a variety of live performances, which is exactly what kept me wandering downtown on this particular journey. The Pub House by Milano was my next stop, where one of the owners, or other musicians are sure to captivate. I chose a comfy intimate couch option to enjoy the show, which felt like a personal concert and before heading home, I made one last stop at Nelson Street Pub for their trash can nachos and a pumped up stage performance.
As you can see, although Pembroke is a City its quaint feel and friendly hospitality make it a perfect place for exploring and adventure. The passion for community the business owners possess will leave you feeling right at home and I highly suggest coming back to explore over and over, as there is something special in Pembroke during every season.
For more great businesses downtown Pembroke, check out Pembroke Business Improvement Area (PBIA).
*West 24 Lofts are all the business located at 24 Pembroke Street West.